Wednesday, December 20, 2006


There's been a frenzy of activity in my kitchen over the past few there usually is this time of year. Our mix of Christmas sweets includes the best of the west & east. From cookies and toffees to laddoos and burfis, we've been making them all. But it's the desi ones that really fascinated me this time.

As I stood, relentlessly stirring one mix after another (and giving my right arm a helluva workout!), I started thinking about how these sweets evolved. The same basic ingredients in varying proportions, heated to different temperatures, stirred or beaten for different durations with varying strength, produce results so distinct in taste, texture and firmness. These aren't quick-fix, all-in-one-go recipes, but time-consuming and painstaking labours of love that call for a great deal of precision: heat it too fast or too long, beat it too less or too much and you have a disaster on your hands (as we learnt the hard way!!).

I've always been a sweet addict. I'd savour every bite, but I'd never thought about the process that creates these luscious sweets. Having expended considerable energy in that process this past week, I have a newfound respect for all sweet-makers. Hats off to all those countless people down the centuries who've experimented with the....chemistry, I suppose, of these sweets and helped further these delectable traditions.